Climate of 2009

February in Historical Perspective

National Climatic Data Center, 13 March 2009



Contents Of This Report:
Selected Global Significant Events for February 2009

2008 Annual Report is available here.

Major Highlights

NOAA: U.S. December-February Temperature Near Average, Above Average for February,
Ninth Warmest February for Globe

Temperatures for winter, December 2008 - February 2009, across the contiguous United States were near average, based on records dating back to 1895, according to a preliminary analysis by scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. For February 2009 alone, the average temperature was above the long-term average.

The combined global land and ocean surface average temperature for February 2009 was the ninth warmest since records began in 1880, according to an analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

The analyses in NCDC's global reports are based on preliminary data, which are subject to revision. Additional quality control is applied to the data when later reports are received several weeks after the end of the month and as increased scientific methods improve NCDC's processing algorithms.

Boreal Winter (December - February) Winter U.S. Temperature Highlights

The December 2008 - February 2009 average temperature was 33.49 degrees F, which is 0.53 degree F above normal.

On a regional basis, temperatures were warmer than average across the southern tier states and central Rockies, while the upper Midwest, Great Lakes, Maine, and Washington had a cooler-than-average winter.

Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was 0.4 percent above average during winter.

Boreal Winter (December - February) Winter Global Temperature Highlights

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for boreal winter (December-February) was 54.72 degrees F, 0.92 degree F above the 20th century mean of 53.8 degrees F and ranking eighth warmest.

Separately, the global land surface temperature was 39.31 degrees F, 1.51 degrees F above the 20th century mean of 37.8 degrees F, ranking as ninth warmest on record.

The global ocean surface temperature of 61.20 degrees F ranked as seventh warmest on record and was 0.70 degree F above the 20th century mean of 60.5 degrees F.

February U.S. Temperature Highlights

The average February temperature of 36.9 degrees F was 2.3 degrees F above the 20th century average.

February temperatures were above average across much of the country. Only parts of the Southeast, Northwest, and West experienced near-normal temperatures.

Oklahoma and Texas had their ninth and 10th, respectively, warmest February. Florida was the only state to experience a cooler-than-average temperature for the month.

The contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was 4.1 percent below average in February.

February Global Temperature Highlights

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for February was 54.80 degrees F, 0.90 degree F above the 20th century mean of 53.9 degrees F, ranking as the ninth warmest on record.

Separately, the global land surface temperature was 39.38 degrees F, 1.58 degrees F above the 20th century mean of 37.8 degrees F.

The global ocean surface temperature of 61.25 degrees F ranked as eighth warmest on record and was 0.65 degree F above the 20th century mean of 60.6 degrees F.

Boreal Winter (December - February) U.S. Precipitation Highlights

The United States experienced its fifth driest December-February period on record. Texas had its driest winter ever and the Southeast experienced its 10th driest winter. Only the East-North-Central region (Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) had precipitation averages that were above normal.

Twelve states (in the southern Plains, Southeast, and Northeast) had their tenth driest, or drier, January-February period in the 1895-2009 record.

February U.S. Precipitation Highlights

Precipitation across the contiguous United States in February averaged 1.40 inches, which is 0.62 inch below the 1901-2000 average and tied with February 1954 as the eighth driest February on record.

Much of the country received below-average precipitation, resulting in the eighth driest February for the contiguous U.S. It was especially dry in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, where New Jersey and Delaware had their driest February on record.

At the end of February, 24 percent of the contiguous United States was in moderate-to-exceptional drought, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Severe-to-extreme drought conditions continued in the western Carolinas, northeast Georgia, the southern Plains, and parts of California and Hawai'i, with exceptional drought in southern Texas.

About 20 percent of the contiguous United States had moderately-to-extremely wet conditions at the end of February, according to the Palmer Index (a well-known index that measures both drought intensity and wet spell intensity). This is about three percent less than at the end of January.

Other U.S. Highlights

January-February 2009 was the driest first-two-month-period in the 1895-2009 record for the contiguous United States. Precipitation across the nation averaged 2.69 inches for January-February.

NOAA satellite observations of snow cover extent showed 6.7 million square miles of North America were covered by snow in February 2009, which is 0.1 million square miles above the 1966-2009 average of 6.6 million square miles.

Global Highlights for February

Based on NOAA satellite observations of snow cover extent, 10.7 million square miles (27.7 million square kilometers) of Eurasia (Europe and Asia) were covered by snow in February 2009, which is 0.4 million square miles (1.1 million square kilometers) below the 1966-2009 average of 11.1 million square miles (28.8 million square kilometers).

Satellite-based snow cover extent for the Northern Hemisphere was 17.4 million square miles (45.0 million square kilometers) in February, which is 0.3 million square miles (0.9 million square kilometers) below the 1966-2009 average of 17.7 million square miles (45.9 million square kilometers).

Arctic sea ice coverage during February 2009 was at its fourth lowest February extent since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Average ice extent during February was 5.7 million square miles (14.8 million square kilometers). The Arctic sea ice pack usually expands during the cold season, reaching a maximum in March, then contracts during the warm season, reaching a minimum in September.

Very hot, dry conditions affected southern Australia during the end of January and beginning of February. An intense heat wave February 6-8 resulted in a high temperature of 119.8 degrees F at Hopetoun, Victoria, Feb. 7, surpassing the previous record of 117.0 degrees F set in January 1939. This is a state record and perhaps the highest temperature ever recorded for such a southerly latitude. The hot, dry conditions contributed to the development of Australia's deadliest wildfires in history.

China declared its highest level of emergency for eight provinces that were suffering from their worst drought in 50 years. The drought conditions, which began in November 2008, affected more than 4 million people and more than 24 million acres of crops.

A strong winter storm brought heavy snow to parts of the United Kingdom on February 2, disrupting transportation and bringing London to a virtual standstill. The event, in which up to 12 inches of snow fell in southeastern England, was the UK's most widespread snow in 18 years, according to the UK Met Office.

Report Index


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